Rigging the Vote

November 07, 2016

We've had a presidential candidate claiming - without evidence - for 100 days that the vote is rigged. While that candidate makes false claims, there is a serious attempt to rig the vote. It comes from those working to disenfranchise legitimate voters.

In Missouri, this effort can be seen with Amendment 6, a proposed constitutional amendment that voters will decide on tomorrow. The amendment would require a government-issued photo identification for voting (as opposed to the various forms of identification currently required that include non-photo documents). If passed, it could stop more than 200,000 legitimately-registered citizens from voting. It would particularly impact elderly, poor, and minority voters.

Proponents of voter photo identification say it will decrease voter fraud. However, in-person voter fraud that photo identification legislation targets is extremely rare. A nationwide study looking at elections from 2000-2014 found only 31 cases of voter impersonation out of more than one billion ballots! So to stop perhaps one illegal ballot in an election, Amendment 6 could stop more than 200,000 legitimate ballots. The cure is worse than the disease. 


Sadly, creators of voter photo identification legislation know the facts. They're not really for such legislation to stop fraud, but to rig elections in their favor. Officials in other states have bragged that voter photo identification will help their side win. Rather than winning votes based on better policy proposals or better candidates, they instead seek to stop legitimate voters who support the other party. Such efforts to create unjust laws are immoral.

In North Carolina, the effort to disenfranchise voters this year is even uglier. Not only have officials enacted strict photo identification requirements, but there's also been an effort to eliminate early voting locations in black neighborhoods and an effort to illegally remove black voters from the rolls. Fortunately, some Christians in the state are speaking out against such actions, like Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and William Barber.

Such discriminatory actions are occurring partly since this is the first presidential election in five decades without the Voting Rights Act in full force (thanks to the Supreme Court). As a result, several southern states closed lots of polling places, especially in minority neighborhoods. In seven states, there are 868 fewer polling places than four years ago. These closures mean people have to travel farther to vote and wait longer in line. Jim Crow isn't dead; he's just trying new tactics. 

I will vote "NO" on Amendment 6. If you live in Missouri, I hope you will join me.

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